There are many questions in shipping industry which seem to be mysteries  of the ancient shipping times with as many theories floating. And one of these question is “Why Captain’s cabin is always on Starboard side?” Here is what I have gathered during my sea career.

Captain’s cabin on the starboard side is a tradition that has been since many years but there has been some exceptions to it where captain’s cabin is on port side. Leaving aside the exceptions, in old days, the starboard side was considered superior to port side in every sense, be it flag etiquettes or two watch system in old days where more experienced staff used to keep watch on starboard side, the starboard side was considered superior to port side. Captain being overall incharge of the ship was considered superior to all the crew onboard and was given superior side of the ship.

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In modern days however it is not superiority that is considered for captain cabin to starboard side. Starboard side is give way side in ROR (Rule of the road) and captain is expected to see the traffic on starboard side of his ship just to be aware of the traffic situation where it is his ship’s duty to take action. He can then also monitor if the officer on watch has taken the required action to avoid close quarter situation.

Do you have any other theory  or do you agree with this explanation ?  Do you have any other such question ? Leave a comment.

Meanwhile wishing you all fair winds and following seas.

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Capt Rajeev Jassal

About Capt Rajeev Jassal

Capt. Rajeev Jassal has sailed for over 24 years mainly on crude oil, product and chemical tankers. He holds MBA in shipping & Logistics degree from London. He has done extensive research on quantitatively measuring Safety culture onboard and safety climate ashore which he believes is the most important element for safer shipping.

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42 Comments

Siva Chidhu
Siva Chidhu
7 years before

hello sir, iam following all ur blogs, after sailing for so many years, i never thought why captai cabin in stbd side. very impressive explanations, i need more blogs from u sir. So that we can gain ur knoweldge & experience. your blogs are so nice & very easy to understand

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
7 years before

Glad that you are liking it Siva. We are trying to post at least one blog a week. We are also working on with other masters and chief engineers to share their knowledge and you will have many more blogs in the near future. Keep reading.

SHAN
SHAN
7 years before

Very Informative Please share some info on final topping off Product/ crude cargo what are the key points to consider not to over load or over exceed the draft

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
7 years before

I will consider that topic to write on Shan..

Francis Escobia
Francis Escobia
7 years before

hello sir. im a filipino seafarer and ive been following your blogs. i find yours very useful! i am very thankful that a great captain like you share your knowledge to the young and future generation of seafarers. more power!

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
7 years before

Thanks for reading the blogs Francis. Please let me know if you have any question anytime or need any help..

Francis Escobia
Francis Escobia
7 years before

i only got a suggestion sir if you could write an article about how new seafarers should start their seafaring career (mindset, goals, etc) especially these days that we are exposed with so many requirements, laws, compliance, which are to be strictly followed and shipping industry is shifting into faster pace every year. New generation of seafarers in the industry might not be able to keep up with this pace and might give up seafaring career at the early stage.

Francis Escobia
Francis Escobia
7 years before

i hope it also contain information on time management. With the improvement and technologically-advanced industry that we have, new guys tend to be over-reliant to this technology and forget the basics ( im guilty on this ). Thank you sir. Have a great day

Rajeev Jassal
Rajeev Jassal
7 years before

This is a good topic to write about Francis and I will write on that. But you are undermining the potential of our young seafarers. I must say that due to changing circumstances we as seniors, trainers and the companies have not been able to guide/train them properly. This website is an initiative to fill that gap. I will definitely write on the topic you suggested.

Francis Escobia
Francis Escobia
7 years before

Thank you so much sir! All the best!

Don  Mc
Don Mc
7 years before

Hi captain, I'm a Chinese third mate, found your blog when searching 'update AVCS with JRC901B ECDIS' and i kept reading other blogs, i like those researches on things we took for granted and professional knowledge-to-plain words transfer style narrative is very easy to absorb, big fan now~

Preet Singh
Preet Singh
6 years before

Apart from the RoR aspect, another explanation would be that by general convention on ships, things on the starboard side are odd numbered and those on port side are even numbered. For e.g., starboard lifeboat is always no.1, and the port one is no. 2, on container ships the rows are numbered 1,3,5 on the starboard side and 2,4,6 on port side, etc. Similarly, the Master being rank no.1 (highest) on the ship, it's fitting that his cabin too be on the starboard side of the ship.

Eric Joseh C. Ebreo
Eric Joseh C. Ebreo
6 years before

when i was starting my seafarer career. someone told me that captains cabin is in stbd side because he is always right.

Umoren Anietie Samuel
Umoren Anietie Samuel
6 years before

Nice. N insightful. Pls can u drop more light on key types of documents a third mate is supposed to prepare before n after leaving port. Thanks captain

CHEMUTAH ABONGNWI CHE
CHEMUTAH ABONGNWI CHE
6 years before

Hello Captain.How can you become a good Captain?

CHEMUTAH ABONGNWI CHE
CHEMUTAH ABONGNWI CHE
6 years before

Dear Captain.how many types of Navigations really exist?thanks and remain blessed

Thu Rein Soe
Thu Rein Soe
6 years before

I am new 3rd officer from Burma. Could you tell me the differences between Resolution and Recommendations.

ABHISHEK SRIVASTVA
ABHISHEK SRIVASTVA
6 years before

Good day sir, my doubt is why the rescue boat on most of the ships I've seen so far is on the starboard side? thanks

Oktolinus Simbong
Oktolinus Simbong
6 years before

As we know that Captain is the highest responsible holder on board vessel (even while getting rest inside the cabin). so in my opinion why Captains cabin ussualy at starboard side is to allow him to do cursory observation in regard to vessels which is closed at his starboard side relate to COLREG rule 15.

Risso
Risso
5 years before

Once i asked to one captain about this, and he replied "because the Chieff Engineer's cabin is on port side"

Rajesh
Rajesh
5 years before

Hi Sir! It is nice to learn many things from your blogs. Can we have few learnings regarding Manning of vessels like vessels SMD, SEAFARERS MANDATORY courses, etc. It would be good please

N.S.M. Rao
N.S.M. Rao
5 years before

Well said Capt.

Mohan muthu
Mohan muthu
5 years before

Dear sir, Can you please explain how to go about ODME failure and hiw to go about decanting with inoperative ODMCS.

Vanashri
Vanashri
4 years before

Well said Sir, You are really doing great job by sharing your knowledge with fellow seafarers. My heartfelt thanks on that. Also sir can you enlighten also as to why the stbd side anchor has more shackles than port side? Thanks in advance..

Nelson
Nelson
4 years before

Dear sir, can we make a masters review on sms even if there is still another pending? It means that the company has not yet acted upon previous masters review. Thank you

Roshan D Raj
Roshan D Raj
4 years before

Simple ways for byheart days work method

TungWing Chow
TungWing Chow
4 years before

It is basically due to the Capt is always "Right"

Sanjiv Verma
Sanjiv Verma
4 years before

Another interesting explanation to why that side of the ship is called " Starboard " . Well in the days of sailing ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean from England to America, they would try and keep the ship on 50 degrees latitude ( parallel sailing) throughout. For this the star Polaris had to be kept abeam and at 50 degrees altitude from the horizon. The navigator would stand on a board fixed on the gunwale on that side to observe the pole star ( Polaris) and thus the name STARBOARD!

Manikandan
Manikandan
3 years before

Hello sir, I have a doubt far so many days can u plz tell me exactly why steering degrees of 30-35degrees in 28seconds why not 35-35 or 30-30 why it's 35-30 in 28 what is the exact reason behind it sir

Sher Singh
Sher Singh
1 year before

because after 30deg hunting lever become sluggish and does not give accurate value w,r.t time

Jakob Krogh
Jakob Krogh
3 years before

Hey captain. I have a guess, which dates back to the viking era, when they used to use the stars for navigation the captain would always be facing the stars and maybe the tradition just carried on from there? Again its just a guess, and thanks for the insightful blogs. Have a good day where ever you are.

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3 years before

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Abhay kumar
Abhay kumar
3 years before

Sir pls answer my question why emergency generator onboard is on stbd side

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Robert Ross
Robert Ross
7 months before

I have alternative explanations for why the starboard side is called the starboard side and how that relates to both COLREGS Rule 15 and the location of the Captain\'s cabin. In the early days of sailing vessels rudders were not hung on the centerline. Rather, the \"steering board\" was usually suspended off the right side of the vessel. This gave the helmsman better visibility to the right side which also gave him the better ability to avoid a collision if another vessel was approaching from that side. The helmsman of the other vessel might not even be able to see to the left side of his vessel due to the sail or some other visual obstruction. \"Steering board\" gave us the term \"starboard\" while also establishing what is still the fundamental principle in the COLREGS: namely that the vessel which is better able to maneuver to avoid a collision is the vessel which has the primary responsibility to do so. If two vessels have the same ability to maneuver, then the deciding factor is which vessel has the other to the starboard side. Given that visibility from modern vessels, as well as their maneuverability is almost always the same from starboard to port, the \"burdened to starboard\" rule might seem arbitrary but it is really carried down from the early days of sailing vessels. Finally, the Captain\'s cabin is to the starboard side so that he can look out the window to check up on the deck watch officer. At any rate, that\'s my story and I am sticking to it.

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